Presented on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. A voracious pack-rat, Mark Twain hoarded his readers' letters as did few of his contemporaries. Dear Mark Twain collects 200 of these letters written by a diverse cross-section of correspondents from around the world - children, farmers, schoolteachers, businessmen, preachers, railroad clerks, inmates of mental institutions, con artists, and even a former president. It is a unique and groundbreaking book - the first published collection of reader letters to any writer of Mark Twain's time. Its contents afford a rare and exhilarating glimpse into the sensibilities of nineteenth-century people while revealing the impact Samuel L. Clemens had on his readers. Clemens's own and often startling comments and replies are also included.
R. Kent Rasmussen's extensive research provides fascinating profiles of the correspondents, whose personal stories are often as interesting as their letters. Ranging from gushing fan appreciations and requests for help and advice to suggestions for writing projects and criticisms, the letters are filled with perceptive insights, pathos, and unintentional but often riotous humor. Many are deeply moving, more than a few are hilarious, some may be shocking, but none are dull.
R. Kent Rasmussen is a prolific and widely respected scholar of Mark Twain. Among his many books are Mark Twain A to Z, The Quotable Mark Twain, Bloom's How To Write About Mark Twain, and Critical Companion to Mark Twain. He is also the editor of the recently published Penguin Classics edition of Mark Twain's Autobiographical Writings.